Tag Archives: economics

Fact-checking the falling shilling: How is Tanzania doing compared with her neighbours?

exchange rates trends Jan-Jun 2015 v2Tanzania’s Finance Minister, Saada Mkuya, said earlier this week that there was nothing the government could do to stop the value of the shilling from sliding against the dollar. The Citizen reported her as saying that all major currencies in Africa are in freefall, thanks to the stronger dollar.

I have looked at the numbers to see whether this claim is correct. Specifically, I have looked at how five different currencies – including the Tanzanian shilling – have lost value against the US dollar since January 2015. The other four currencies are the Kenyan and Ugandan shillings, Zambian Kwacha and Mozambican Metical. Continue reading

Dar will not become a “middle income country” in 2015, but will Tanzania?

Daily News fp 120615Dar closer to don middle-income country tag soon,” said the government-owned Daily News on the front page, citing the budget speech by Tanzania’s Minister of Finance, Saada Mkuya Salim.

Let’s leave aside the oddly phrased headline (including the implication that “Dar” is about to become a country).

Instead, is Tanzania really on track to soon become a middle-income country? Continue reading

Chart #38: The best and worst of the Tanzania Human Development Report 2014

The 2014 Tanzania Human Development Report was released last week. It’s been prepared by the Economic and Social Research Foundation (ESRF), with support from the UNDP.

It should be a fascinating document – the equivalent reports in the past have often been the best national-level summary of Tanzania’s progress towards Millennium Development Goals and Mkukuta targets – see this 2009 report, for example. But this time I was disappointed. In several important areas, the report has almost nothing to say. Continue reading

Chart #36: Chinese influence in Tanzania

The increasing presence and influence of China in Africa is controversial to some. But not, it seems, to Tanzanians. New data from the latest round of Afrobarometer surveys has just been released, with some analysis (pdf) of how Tanzanians perceive Chinese influence.

I have four charts for you. First, how influential do Tanzanians think China actually is, compared to other countries / institutions?

Continue reading

How (un)equal is East Africa? And does it matter?

Does inequality matter? What are the effects of wealth being concentrated in the hands of a few individuals?

Well, if you believe some of the world’s most respected economists – people like Thomas Piketty, Joseph Stiglitz, Branco Milanovic, Wilkinson and Pickett – it matters. And they say it is getting worse. The World Bank and the IMF made “shared prosperity” the theme of their annual meeting this year, and the IMF head, Christine Lagarde, described the rise in global inequality as “staggering”. Just in the past week, Bill Gates, the Financial Times and the (UK) Guardian have all made the case that inequality matters.

At the global level, Oxfam famously found that the world’s richest 85 people own as much wealth as the poorest 3.5 billion people – half the world’s population. And The Rules put together a great video showing wealth inequalities on a global scale, itself inspired by similar work focussed on the US.

But what about inequality here in East Africa? Continue reading

Tanzania from space, by night

Political patronage can be seen from space, according to a recent academic study. And elsewhere, the light given off at night by cities shows sharp discrepancies between neighbouring countries – South and North Korea and China, for example.

So what about Tanzania?

I found two sets of maps produced by NASA (the US space agency) and loaded onto Google Maps, for 2003 and 2012. Let’s take a look at 2012 first:

Tanzania night light map 2012

Tanzania night light map 2012

Continue reading

Chart of the week #17: Tanzania exports far more to SADC than to the EAC

The Daily News had an interesting economic headline earlier this week: Tanzania’s exports to SADC countries soars. According to the article, 29% of Tanzania’s exports go to countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC), while only 10% go to East African Community (EAC) countries.

It’s based on new data from the Bank of Tanzania, published in their Financial Stability Report and Quarterly Economic Bulletin.

The article itself got in a bit of a mess, confusing economic growth rates with growth in trade. Nevertheless, the basic point is still interesting: Tanzania exports nearly three times as much to SADC countries as to EAC countries.

Perhaps, therefore, Tanzania should worry less about getting East African integration right, and focus more on its southern neighbours instead? Continue reading